by Abb Jones
The Reelness

Piper Laurie, one of the last actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Era who received three Oscar-nominations – for Carrie, The Hustler and Children of a Lesser God – has died of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles. She was 91.

Paul Newman and Piper Laurie in The Hustler

Born Rosetta Jacobs in 1932 in Detroit, Laurie was plucked out of Los Angeles High School at the age of 17 by Universal Pictures, which kept her under contract for seven years. After appearing in several mediocre films, Laurie extricated herself from the studio system in search of better roles, later landing her first Oscar-nominated performance, for Best Actress, in 1961’s The Hustler, co-starring Paul Newman. Nine months later, Laurie married film critic Joseph Morgenstein, and with no substantial roles on the horizon, they moved to Woodstock, New York where the couple raised a daughter for the next 20 years before divorcing in 1982.

Piper Laurie as the knife-wielding psychotic mommy in Carrie

After a return to Broadway, Laurie would earn her second Oscar-nomination, for her terrifying role as the psychotic, hyper-religious, knife-wielding mother to Sissy Spacek’s telekinetic teenager in Brian de Palma’s 1976 horror/thriller Carrie – a role that Laurie said was her favorite of her career and one that she said she signed up for almost as a lark. Many years later, Laurie and Spacek would play sisters in the period dramedy The Glass Harp.

Laurie picked up her third Oscar nomination for the 1986 romantic drama Children of a Lesser God, again playing a cold-hearted mother, this time to Marlee Matlin’s deaf character. Subsequent years included some film and many television roles, including one of her most noteworthy, as Catherine Martell in the television series Twin Peaks, which earned her a Golden Globe award. Laurie’s final film was 2018’s White Boy Rick.

Laurie, also a sculptor who worked in marble and clay, is survived by her daughter, Anne Grace.

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